Welcome to Run It Back. Each week, S.E. Shepherd brings you a unique look at the best (and worst) in TV, movies, sports, comedy, online video, and life in general. Is there something you’d like S.E. to cover? Hit him up on Twitter @TheSEShepherd.
Although summer doesn’t officially end until September 21, now that Labor Day is over and football season is in full swing, most of us already are in an autumn mindset. But before you throw out your leftover bottles of Hawaiian Tropic and shove your swimsuit in to that sad dresser drawer that you only open between May and August, just take a step back and try to enjoy the last few weeks of warm weather. Also, take it from a guy who makes this mistake every year, it is not time to bust our your fall wardrobe yet. I know, I know. You really want to rock that new hoodie and you’re dying to show off the latest addition to your flannel collection, but trust me, you’re rushing it. This is Kentucky, which means it’s going to be close to 90 degrees and as humid as a fat man’s undercarriage for the next few weeks, so leave your long sleeves in the closet for now. There will be plenty of time for all that noise in October (though we all know by the time Keeneland’s fall meet rolls around, you will have convinced yourself that it’s still shorts and flip flop weather). Now that we have that out of the way, here’s a quick round up of things from this week that mattered to me and might matter to you.
The Return of Kenny Powers
This week HBO debuted the first official trailer (language in the clip is NSFW because, duh, it’s Kenny Powers) for the final season of Eastbound and Down. That means we’re only a couple of weeks away from finding out how the world will react to the news that (SPOILER ALERT!) Kenny Powers faked his own death at the end of season three. Judging from the opening clip in the trailer, it looks like his return is a shock to his family but a godsend for one Stevie Janowski.
This season is rumored to focus on Kenny coming to terms with his new role as a typical suburban dad whose glory days are now long, long, loooooonnnnngggg behind him. But it looks like La Flama Blanca is gearing up to make one final run at claiming the fame and fortune he thinks he rightfully deserves. The new season will feature some great guest stars, including Ken Marino (who you may recognize from Party Down, Wet Hot American Summer or his hilarious supporting role in 2012’s Wanderlust) and Tim Heidecker (of Tim and Eric fame). Oh, and supposedly Lindsay Lohan will pop up somewhere along the way, too, so there’s that.
Eastbound and Down returns to HBO on September 29.
Bo Burnham’s Vine Game is on a Hundred Thousand Trillion
Other people in the Inception hallway. https://t.co/VPAxcvrFoC
— Bo Burnham (@boburnham) August 29, 2013
Vine is one of those apps that, on the surface, sounds like a really dumb idea: A video-sharing app that only allows users to create six-second clips. When I first read about Vine a few months ago, I was skeptical. I mean, I have sneezes that last longer than six seconds. What could anyone possibly do or say in that absurdly brief amount of time that offers any sort of value, be it informational, educational or entertaining?
Surprisingly, Vine has emerged as one of the most addictive services to come along in the last year. It turns out the six-second time limit creates an endless stream of bite-sized videos that are perfect for scrolling through while you’re killing time at work or waiting for the stoplight to turn green (don’t Vine and drive, kids). Not only is Vine a great way to keep up with the latest antics of some current and former UK players, it also has emerged as an honest-to-goodness platform for some really solid comedic content. Comedians, both amateur and professional, are finding new and creative ways to get the most out of the format. Whether your tastes run more towards the Jackass-brand of humor that mines laughs out of physically punishing willing-but-unsuspecting bystanders (see Vine user MAX JR’s infamous Smack Cam series), or the random musings of rising stars in the stand-up world like Pete Holmes, there’s something for everyone.
For my money, though, no one in the Vine game can come close to Bo Burnham.
Burnham — best known for his meteoric rise on YouTube, his album and Comedy Central stand up special “Words, Words, Words,” and his recently canceled MTV show “Zach Stone is Gonna be Famous” — has elevated the six-second joke to an art form:
Jesus Christ. https://t.co/6ehMKx8qHD
— Bo Burnham (@boburnham) July 1, 2013
Since he started posting Vines earlier this year, Burnham already has created some of the platform’s most memorable moments. It’s worth scrolling through all of his posts, and just think, at six seconds a clip, it won’t take you more than a couple of minutes to get through all of them!
Saturday Morning Cartoons for Grownups
Justin White (aka Jublin) is an artist from California whose most recent project combines two of my favorite things: iconic characters and cartoons. Entitled “Rated G,” the series reimagines memorable scenes from movies and TV shows for grownups as Saturday morning cartoons. It’s pretty great to see dark anti-heroes like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho and Tyler Durden from Fight Club drawn in the style of retro animation.
Also, one of White’s past projects was updating a series of college mascots, and I think his version of the UK Wildcat is pretty awesome.
The Mystery of Flying Kicks
If you’re like me, at some point in your life you’ve seen a pair of sneakers dangling from a telephone wire or power line and wondered how they got there and why anyone would waste a perfectly good pair of shoes like that. Even if you haven’t witnessed this phenomenon firsthand, you’ve almost certainly seen it depicted in movies, music videos or TV shows, as it’s become a visual meme used to convey a sense of urban decay or desolation. When I was a kid, my older brother told me if you saw shoes hanging from a wire it meant someone had been shot in that neighborhood. It turns out my brother isn’t the most reliable source when it comes to the world’s unexplained mysteries. He told me a lot of stuff when I was a kid that ended up being little more than tall tales and flat-out lies designed to scare me. Like the time he told me the reason I heard weird noises in my room at night was because the old lady who lived in our house before us had died in my room. Not cool, bro.
Filmmaker Matthew Bate set out to shed some light on this mystery (about the shoes, not the old lady who supposedly died in my room) by asking people from around the world to call and leave messages about their shoe-hanging experiences, insights and theories. The short film above is a pretty interesting look at the various explanations and urban legends surrounding “flying kicks” and “shoefiti.”
On a related note, if you enjoy this short, I’d urge you to check out Bate’s feature-length documentary, Shut Up Little Man!: An Audio Misadventure, which explores the origins and mythology surrounding a tape recording of two drunks living in a San Francisco apartment who loudly berated and verbally abused one another during the late 1980s, all while being secretly recorded by their neighbors. But be warned, if you click on those links and start reading about the story behind the film, you will go down a rabbit hole that will likely cost you the rest of your afternoon. The film tells the story of the two dudes who recorded the tapes and traces the viral spread of the recordings in a pre-internet era, as well as the filmmaker’s attempts to find and interview the two men behind the voices on the tapes. It is equal parts fascinating, hilarious and heart breaking. You can watch the doc on Netflix, where it is currently available to view instantly.
Selling is Service
Like most people, I worked a lot of crummy jobs while growing up. I did everything from wrangling shopping carts for a local grocery store to selling tickets for a rinky-dink boat cruise to folding T-shirts at a tourist trap gift shop. And I’m convinced that, had the internet been more prevalent when I was a youngster, the owners of at least one of those businesses would have decided that it would be a good idea to film a “viral” video to drum up publicity, dooming my stupid face — filled with that horrible mix of youthful innocence and an eagerness to please — to be forever linked to their pitiful attempt to achieve internet glory.
Unless this is your first day on the internet — in which case, let me be the first to both welcome you and point out that, as far as I can tell, there aren’t really any Nigerian princes with complicated financial issues firing off emails to random Hotmail accounts — you should know by now that attempts by local businesses to achieve viral fame never end well. Or at least not in the way most of them envisioned.
With that in mind, here’s this week’s reminder that, if your boss ever asks you to appear in a video showing how fun and unique your workplace can be, you should quit immediately:
Seriously, what’s up with Jill at about the 1:30 mark? She is straight up reading from the script and not even trying to hide it. That’s the weakest move in the book when it comes to work-related rap videos. STEP IT UP, JILL!
That’s it for this week. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to invent an app called “Vi” that only lets you post three-second video clips. I’m gonna be rich!
Have a great weekend. Go Cats!